Joint report on social exclusion

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Joint report on

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European Commission Delegation

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Employment

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social affairs

Social security and social integration

European Commission

Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs Unit EMPUE.2

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If you are interested in receiving the electronic newsletter .. ESmaW from the European Commission•s Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs, please send an e-mail to

empl-esmail @cec.eu.int. The newsletter is published on a regular basis in English, French and German.

A great deal of additional information on the European Union is available on the Internet. It can be accessed through the Europa server (http://europa.eu.int).

Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication.

Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2002

ISBN 92-894-3222-5

© European Communities, 2002

Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

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Table of contents

Part I - The European Union ...

7

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ... 9

Introduction ... 15

1. Major trends and challenges ... 18

2. Strategic approaches and policy measures ... 28

3. Identification of good practice and innovative approaches ... 32

3.1 Objective 1: To facilitate participation in employment and access by all to resources, rights, goods and services ... 32

3.1.1 Facilitating participation in employment ... 32

3.1.2 Facilitating access to resources, rights, goods and services for all ... 39

3.1.2.1 Social protection systems ... 39

3.1.2.2 Housing ... 42

3.1.2.3 Healthcare ... 45

3.1.2.4 Education, Justice and Culture ... .48

3.2 Objective 2: To prevent the risks of exclusion ... 54

3.2.1 Promoting einclusion ... 54

3.2.2 Preventing over-indebtedness and homelessness ... 51

3.2.3 Preserving family solidarity ... 60

3.3 Objective 3: To help the most vulnerable ... 61

3.3.1 Promoting the integration of people facing persistent poverty ... 62

3.3.2 Eliminating social exclusion among children ... 65

3.3.3 Promoting action in favour of areas marked by exclusion ... 66

3.4 Objective 4: To mobilise all relevant bodies ... 68

3.4.1 Promoting the participation and self-expression of people suffering exclusion ... 68

3.4.2 Mainstreaming the fight against exclusion ... 69

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4. Promoting equality between women and men ... 74

4.1 Gender sensitivity in the major challenges ... 74

4.2 Gender mainstreaming in the overall strategy ... 75

4.3 How gender issues are dealt with in the different objectives ... 76

4.4 Gender in the monitoring process, impact assessments and indicators ... 78

5. Use of Indicators in the NAPs/inc1 ... 78

Part

I I -

The Member

States ...

83

BELGIUM ... 85

GERMANY ... 97

GREECE ... 103

SPAIN" ... 109

FRANCE ... 115

ITALY ... 129

LUXEMBOURG ... 135

THE NETHERLANDS ... 141

AUSTRIA ... 147

PORTUGAL ... 153

FIN"LAND ... 159

SWEDEN ... 165

UNITED KIN"GDOM ... 171

Part

III -

Annexes ...

179

ANNEX I - List of Indicators used in Joint Inclusion Report 2001 ... 181

ANNEX II - Examples of good practice indicated in the national action plans against poverty and social exclusion ... 205

1. Employment ... 207

2. Minimum Income I Social Safety Net ... 210

3. Healthcare ... 211

4. Housing ... 212

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6. Justice ... 215

7. E-Inclusion (ICT) ... 216

8. Culture, Sports, Leisure ... 217

9. Indebtedness ... 217

10. Homelessness ... 218

11. Territorial I Regional Dimension ... 219

12. Family Solidarity I Children ... 220

13. To help the most Vulnerable ... 222

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

It is the first time that the European Union endorses a policy document on poverty and social exclusion. By documenting and analysing the situation across all Merpber States and by identifying the key challenges for the future this Joint Report on Social Inclusioh contributes to strengthening the European social model. It is thus a significant advance towards the achievement of the EU's strategic goal of greater social cohesion in the Union between 2001- 2010.

This report gives a concrete reality to the open method of coordination on Social Inclusion agreed at the Lisbon Summit in March 2000. This new process is an important recognition of the key role that social policy has to play alongside economic and employment policies in reducing inequalities and promoting social cohesion, as well as of the need to ensure effective links between these policies in the future. It is thus an important element in progressing the European Social Agenda agreed in Nice and complements the objectives of the European Employment Strategy.

This report marks a significant advance in the process of developing commonly agreed indicators to measure poverty and social exclusion across and within all Member States. It shows that Member States and the Commission are actively engaged in this process. This will lead to a much more rigorous and effective monitoring of progress in tackling poverty and social exclusion in the future.

It will also contribute to better evaluations of policies and a clearer assessment of their effectiveness and value for money. This should lead to better policy making in Member States in the future.

This report does not evaluate the effectiveness of the systems already in place in different Member States. Rather it concentrates on analysing the different approaches that have been adopted by Member States in their National Action Plans against poverty and social exclusion (NAPs/incl) in response to the common objectives on poverty and social exclusion agreed by the EU at Nice in December 2000. It examines Member States' NAPs/incl focussing on the quality of analysis, the clarity of objectives, goals and targets and the extent to which there is a strategic and integrated approach. In doing this it demonstrates the commitment of all Member States to use the new social inclusion process to enhance their efforts to tackle poverty and social inclusion.

This report documents a wide range of policies and initiatives in place or proposed in Member States. These will provide a good basis for co-operation and exchange of learning between Member States in the future. However, it has not been possible to identify examples of good practice as at present there is a general lack of rigorous evaluation of policies and programmes in Member States. The report thus identifies that an important challenge for the next phase of the social inclusion process will be to ensure more thorough analysis by the Member States of the cost effectiveness and efficiency of their policies to tackle poverty and social exclusion.

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learning at Community level. This will be supported from 2002 by a five year Community action programme on social inclusion.

The overall context - The new open method of co-ordination should contribute to a better integration of social objectives in the already existing processes towards achieving the ambitious strategic goal for the Union set out in Lisbon. In particular, it should contribute to ensuring a positive and dynamic interaction of economic, employment and social policies and to mobilise all players to attain such a strategic objective. The present report is fully consistent with the aims of the European Social Agenda agreed at Nice, to the extent that it recognises the dual role of social policy, both as a productive factor and as a key instrument to reduce inequalities and promote social cohesion. In this respect it puts due emphasis on the key role of participation in employment, especially by groups that are under-represented or disadvantaged in it, in line with the objectives of the European Employment Strategy. Furthermore, the report takes into account the achievements of the European Social model, characterised by systems that offer a high level of social protection, by the importance of social dialogue and by services of general interest covering activities vital for social cohesion, while reflecting the diversity of Member States' options and conditions.

Fulfilling the commitment - All Member States have demonstrated their commitment to implementing the Open Method of Coordination by completing National Plans by June 2001. These set out their priorities in the fight against poverty and social exclusion for a period of 2 years and include a more or less detailed description of the policy measures in place or planned in order to meet the EU common objectives. Most also include examples of good practice. The NAPs/incl provide a wealthy source of information from which the Commission and Member States can further develop a process of exchange of good practice conducive to more effective policies within Member States. This process should be enhanced in future by more extensive evaluations by the Member States of their national policies, including their implications for public finance, and through the development of a comprehensive set of indicators and methodologies, at both national and EU levels.

The overall picture - Evidence from the NAPs/incl confirms that tackling poverty and social exclusion continues to be an important challenge facing the European Union. The impact of favourable economic and employment trends between 1995 and 2000 has helped to stabilise the situation which had deteriorated in many Member States with economic recession in the mid 1990s. However, it is clear from the analysis provided by Member States and comparable EU indicators that the number of people experiencing high exclusion and poverty risk in society remains too high. The most recent available data on income across Member States, while not capturing the full complexity and multi-dimensionality of poverty and social exclusion, shows that in 1997 18% of the EU population, or more than 60 million people, were living in households where income was below 60% of the national equivalised median income and that about half had been living below this relative poverty threshold for three successive years.

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The structural changes - Several NAPs/incl identify a number of structural changes occurring across the EU which can lead to new risks of poverty and social exclusion for particularly vulnerable groups unless the appropriate policy responses are developed. These are: major structural changes in the labour market resulting from a period of very rapid economic change and globalisation; the very rapid growth of the knowledge-based society and Information and Communication Technologies; the increasing number of people living longer coupled with falling birth rates resulting in growing dependency ratios; a growing trend towards ethnic, cultural and religious diversity fuelled by international migration and increased mobility within the Union; increase in women's access to the labour market and changes in household structures.

The challenges- The overarching challenge for public policy that emerges from the NAPs/incl is to ensure that the main mechanisms which distribute opportunities and resources - the labour market, the tax system, the systems providing social protection, education, housing, health and other services- become sufficiently universal to address the needs of those who are at risk of poverty and social exclusion and to enable them to access their fundamental rights. It is thus encouraging that the NAPs/incl highlight the need and confirm the commitment of Member States both to enhance their employment policies and to further modernise their social protection systems as well as other systems, such as education, health and housing, and make them more responsive to individual needs and better able to cope with traditional as well as new risks of poverty and social exclusion. While the scale and intensity of the problems vary widely across Member States eight core challenges can be identified which are being addressed to a greater or lesser extent by most Member States. These are: developing an inclusive labour market and promoting employment as a right and opportunity for all; guaranteeing an adequate income and resources to live in human dignity; tackling educational disadvantage; preserving family solidarity and protecting the rights of children; ensuring good accommodation for all; guaranteeing equal access to and investing in high quality services (health, transport, social, care, cultural, recreational and legal); improving the delivery of services; and regenerating areas of multiple deprivation.

Different points of departure - The NAPs/incl highlight the very different social policy systems across Member States. Member States with the most developed welfare systems and with high per capita social expenditure levels tend to be most successful in ensuring access to basic necessities and keeping the numbers at risk of poverty well below the EU average. Not surprisingly these very different social policy systems combined with the widely varying levels of poverty resulted in Member States adopting quite different approaches to tackling poverty and social exclusion in the NAPs/incl. Some used the opportunity to rethink their strategic approach to tackling poverty and social exclusion, including the co-ordination between different levels of policy-making and delivery. Others, particularly those with the most developed welfare systems where poverty and social exclusion tend to be narrowed down to a number of very particular risk factors, took the key contribution their universal systems make as read and concentrated on highlighting new and more specific measures in their NAPs/incl. Another factor that influenced Member States' approach to their NAPs/incl was the political structure of the country and how the responsibilities in the fight against social exclusion are distributed between the central, regional and local authorities. However, whatever the variation in this regard, most Member States recognised the need to complement national plans with integrated approaches at regional and local levels.

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their mention is sporadic, though a commitment by some to enhance gender mainstreaming over the next two years is very welcome. To a large extent, the different emphasis in these aspects across NAPs/incl reflect the different points of departure mentioned above.

Scope for innovation - In terms of specific actions and policies most Member States have focused their efforts on improving co-ordination, refining and combining existing policies and measures and promoting partnership, rather than launching important new or innovative policy approaches. The relatively short time available to develop the first NAPs/incl has led most Member States to limit the policy measures to the existing budgetary and legal frameworks and most did not include any cost estimates. Thus, while most 2001 NAPs/incl are an important starting point in the process, in order to make a decisive impact on poverty and social exclusion further policy efforts will be needed in the coming years.

Interaction with the Employment Strategy - Participation in employment is emphasised by most Member States as the best safeguard against poverty and social exclusion. This reflects adequately the emphasis laid on employment by the European Council at Nice. Two-way links are established between the NAPs/incl and the NAPs/employment. On the one hand, the Member States recognise the crucial role played by the Employment Guidelines in the fight against exclusion by improving employability and creating new job opportunities, which are an essential condition for making the labour markets more inclusive. At the same time, the Employment Strategy is concerned mainly with raising employment rates towards the targets set in Lisbon and Stockholm in the most effective way. On the other hand, by focusing on actions that will facilitate participation in employment for those individuals, groups and communities who are most distant from the labour market, the NAPs/incl can play a positive role towards increasing the employment rate. The trend towards more active and preventive policies in most NAPs/incl reflects experience gained under the Luxembourg process.

Policy design - Across the different policy strands addressing the EU common objectives, three general and complementary approaches emerge from the NAPs/incl. The first approach involves enhancing the adequacy, access and affordability of mainline policies and provisions so that there is improved coverage, uptake and effectiveness (i.e. promoting universality). The second approach is to address specific disadvantages that can be overcome through the use of appropriate policies (i.e. promoting a level playing field). The third approach is to compensate for disadvantages that can only be partially (or not at all) overcome (i.e. ensuring solidarity).

Policy delivery-A key concern across all NAPs/incl is not only to design better policies but also to improve their delivery so as to make services more inclusive and better integrated with a greater focus on the needs and situations of the users. Some elements of best practice can begin to be identified on the basis of NAPs/incl. This involves: designing and delivering policies as close to people as possible; ensuring that services are delivered in an integrated and holistic way; ensuring transparent and accountable decision making; making services more user friendly, responsive and efficient; promoting partnership between different actors; emphasising equality, rights and non discrimination; fostering the participation of those affected by poverty and social exclusion; emphasising the autonomy and empowerment of the users of services; and emphasising a process of continuous improvement and the sustainability of services.

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develop effective mechanisms for their ongoing involvement in implementing and monitoring National Plans. Some Member States highlight consultation and stakeholder mechanisms that will help to ensure this.

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INTRODUCTION

The present report aims at identifying good practice and innovative approaches of common interest to the Member States on the basis of the National Action Plans against poverty and social exclusion (NAPs/incl), in conformity with the mandate received from the European Council of Nice. It is presented as the Joint Report on Social Inclusion that the Council and the Commission have prepared for the European Council of Laeken.

The adoption of this report is in itself a significant achievement. For the first time ever, a single policy document assesses common challenges to prevent and eliminate poverty and social exclusion and promote social inclusion from an EU perspective. It brings together the strategies and major policy measures in place or envisaged by all EU Member States to fight poverty and social exclusion 1. It is a key step towards strengthening policy co-operation in this area, with a view to promoting mutual learning and EU-wide mobilisation towards greater social inclusion, while safeguarding the Member States' key responsibilities in policy making and delivery.

Following the inclusion under Article 136 and 137 EC by the Amsterdam Treaty, of the fight against exclusion among the social policy provisions, the European Council of Lisbon agreed on the need to take steps to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010. It has also agreed that Member States' policies for combating social exclusion should be based on an open method of co-ordination combining common objectives, National Action Plans and a programme presented by the Commission to encourage co-operation in this field.

The new open method of co-ordination should contribute to a better integration of social objectives in the already existing processes towards achieving the ambitious strategic goal for the Union set out in Lisbon "to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustained economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion". In particular, it should contribute to ensuring a positive and dynamic interaction of economic, employment and social policies and to mobilise all players to attain such a strategic objective. The present report is fully consistent with the aims of the European Social Agenda agreed at Nice, to the extent that it recognises the dual role of social policy, both as a productive factor and as a key instrument to reduce inequalities and promote social cohesion. In this respect it puts due emphasis on the key role of participation in employment, especially by groups that are under-represented or disadvantaged in it, in line with the objectives of the European Employment Strategy. Furthermore, the report takes in full account the achievements of the European Social model, characterised by systems that offer a high level of social protection, by the importance of social dialogue and by services of general interest covering activities vital for social cohesion, while reflecting the diversity of Member States' options and conditions.

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Given the multiple interaction with other existing processes of policy co-ordination, there is a need to ensure consistency with the Employment Guidelines, on one hand, and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines, on the other, to avoid overlapping and conflicting objectives. In the Synthesis Report submitted to the European Council of Stockholm, the Commission started to translate the new strategic vision of the Union into an integrated assessment of policy strategies and outcomes in four key domains: economic reform, information society, internal market and social cohesion. The present report aims at highlighting the role of social policy and of other equally important policy areas for social cohesion (education, housing, health) in the forthcoming Synthesis Report that the Commission will prepare for the European Council in spring 2002.

All Member States have committed themselves in Nice to developing their policy priorities in fighting poverty and social exclusion in the framework of four commonly agreed objectives:

( 1) to facilitate participation in employment and access by all to the resources, rights, goods and services;

(2) to prevent the risks of exclusion;

(3) to help the most vulnerable;

(4) to mobilise all relevant bodies.

The Member States also underlined the importance of mainstreaming equality between men and women in all actions aimed at achieving those objectives.

The NAPs/incl setting out the policy objectives and measures to tackle these objectives were prepared between January and May 2001. The Commission played an active role in supporting Member States' preparatory efforts, by proposing a common outline and a working schedule for the NAPs/incl which were adopted by the Social Protection Committee. Furthermore, the Commission proposed and took part actively in a series of bilateral seminars with all Member States, to present the new EU strategy and to discuss the country's policy priorities in preparation of the NAPs/incl. In addition to the authorities responsible for the co-ordination of the plans, several other government departments, as well as representatives from regional and local authorities, non-governmental organisations and the social partners, participated in the seminars in varying degrees.

The overall picture that emerges from the fifteen N APs/incl confirms that tackling poverty and social exclusion continues to be an important challenge facing the European Union. If Member States are to achieve the goal of building inclusive societies then significant improvements need to be made in the distribution of resources and opportunities in society so as to ensure the social integration and participation of all people and their ability to access their fundamental rights. However, the magnitude of the challenge varies significantly both between and within Member States.

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The NAPs/incl highlight the need and confirm the commitment of Member States both to enhance their employment policies and to further modernise their social protection systems as well as other systems, such as education and housing, and make them more responsive to individual needs and able to cope with traditional as well as new risks of poverty and social exclusion. A key challenge here is to ensure that equal value is given to policies in these areas alongside employment and economic policies. The struggle against poverty and social exclusion needs to be appropriately mainstreamed across this large range of policy areas and there need to be real synergies between them. There is also recognition in many Member States that the picture is not static and that the rapid structural changes that are affecting all countries need to be taken into account if new forms of social exclusion are not to occur or existing forms to intensify.

All Member States are committed to the new EU process of policy co-ordination against poverty and social exclusion. Without exception, the NAPs/incl set out Member States' priorities in the fight against poverty and social exclusion for a period of 2 years, taking into account the four common objectives agreed by the European Council of Nice. All NAPs/incl include a more or less detailed description of the policy measures in place or planned in order to meet such objectives and the majority have included examples of good practice to facilitate their identification. However, a number of Member States noted that the time allowed for the preparation of their plans was too short to enable them to consider new important initiatives and innovative approaches. Others pointed to the difficulty of aligning at such short notice, their new NAPs with the existing national decision-making processes. As a result, most NAPs/incl tend to concentrate on existing policy measures and programmes instead of setting out new policy approaches.As a general rule, the NAPs/incl focus comparatively less on the public finance implications of proposed initiatives. Existing initiatives will of course have been properly costed and budgeted for. But in terms of designing the future strategy for promoting inclusion, it is essential to be aware of financial constraints. Commitments to increase investment in education, to improve the adequacy of social protection or to extend employability initiatives may entail significant costs and therefore should also be consistent with overall national budgetary commitments as well as the Broad Economic Guidelines and the Stability and Growth Pact. Similarly, regulatory constraints should also be taken into account. For example, measures that might affect labour costs or incentives to participate in the labour market should be consistent with the BEPGs and the Employment Guidelines.

The next steps in the open method of co-ordination will be as follows:

Step 1 (Oct- Dec 2001): the analysis of the NAPincl by the Commission is supplemented by the Member States in the Social Protection Committee and subsequently in the Social Affairs Council. The European Parliament is expected to contribute to the debate. A Joint Report will then be submitted to the EU Council in Laeken-Brussels which is expected to define the priorities and approaches that will guide efforts and cooperation at Community level during the implementation of the first NAPs/incl.

Step 2 (Jan -May 2002): attention will concentrate on organising a process of mutual learning, supported by the new Community action programme which is planned to start in January 2002 and the set of commonly agreed indicators on social inclusion which the Council is expected to agree on by the end of 2001

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possible in the run up to the second wave of NAPs/incl to consolidate the objectives and to strengthen c0operation.

The Goteborg European Council invited the candidate countries to translate the Union's economic, social and environmental objectives into their national policies. Promoting social inclusion is one of these objectives to be translated in national policies and the Council and Commission encourage candidate countries to make use to this end of the Member States' experience presented in this report

1. MAJOR TRENDS AND CHALLENGES

Key trends

Over the most recent years, the EU has lived through a period of sustained economic growth, accompanied by significant job creation and a marked reduction in unemployment. Between 1995 and 2000, the 15 Member States enjoyed an average GDP growth rate of 2.6 %, which together with a more employment-friendly policy approach, was responsible for the creation of more than 10 million net jobs and an average employment growth rate of 1.3% per annum. Over the same period, the employment rate increased from 60% to 63.3% overall, and for women, the increase was even faster - from 49.7 % to 54 %. Unemployment is still high as it affects currently 14.5 million individuals in the Union, but the rate has declined steadily since 1995-97, when it had been close to 11%, to reach more than 8% in 2000. Reflecting a more active approach overall to labour market policy, long-term unemployment has declined even faster, resulting in a reduction of the share in unemployment from 49% to 44% (Table 10).

In contrast with the generalised acceptance that the economic and employment situation has improved, the perception of trends in poverty and social exclusion is quite uneven across Member States. While some admit that the situation has worsened, or at least has not changed significantly, in the latter part of the nineties, others suggest that it has improved, essentially due to the fall in unemployment. In many Member States renewed economic growth and increased levels of employment have helped to largely stabilise, but still at too high a level, the situation in relation to poverty and social exclusion which had deteriorated with economic recession in the mid nineties. However, the lack of a commonly accepted analytical framework makes it is difficult to come to definite conclusions.

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This report provides a synthetic comparative analysis of the situation of poverty and social exclusion in the Union2 on the basis of available data. Central to this analysis is the choice of a relative concept of poverty, instead of an absolute one. Poverty is a relative notion to the extent that it is defined in relation to the general level of prosperity in a given country and point in time. An absolute notion, while theoretically attractive, does not respond to the particular goals of this report for two basic reasons. First, the key challenge for Europe is how to make the whole population share the benefits of high average prosperity, and not to reach very basic standards of living, as in other parts of the world. Secondly, what is regarded as a minimal acceptable way of life depends largely on the prevailing lifestyle and the level of social and economic development, which tends to vary considerably across Member States.

Traditionally, in measuring relative poverty there has been an emphasis on low income, thus losing sight of the multi-dimensional nature of this phenomenon. Such emphasis is justified given that, in a market economy, insufficient monetary resources impair access to a whole range of basic goods and services. However, low income is just one of the dimensions of poverty and social exclusion, and in order to measure and analyse this phenomenon more completely, it would be necessary to take into account other equally relevant aspects such as access to employment, education, housing, healthcare, the degree of satisfaction of basic needs and the ability to participate fully in society.

Non-monetary indicators show that, across the Union, substantial numbers of people appeared to live in an unfavourable situation with respect to financial problems, basic needs, consumer durables, housing conditions, health, social contacts and overall satisfaction 3. One in every six persons in the EU (17%) faced multiple disadvantages extending to two or even all three of the following areas -financial situation, basic needs and housing. The situation of poverty among such people is particularly worrying.

While persons in a low-income household appear to be much more frequently disadvantaged in monetary terms than the rest of the population, the relationship between income and non-monetary dimensions of poverty is by no means simple. A substantial number of people living above a relative income poverty line may not be able to satisfy at least one of the needs identified as basic, due to the detrimental influence of such factors as health condition, security of work income, need of extra care for elderly or disabled members of the household, etc. On the other hand, the actual living standards for those living below a relative income poverty line are strongly conditioned by such factors as house ownership, or in kind social benefits.

While recognising that a purely monetary indicator cannot capture the full complexity and multi-dimensionality of poverty and social exclusion, a fairly good approximation to the measurement of relative poverty can be given by defining an income threshold below which people are at risk of falling into poverty. In this report this threshold is defined as the proportion of individuals

living in households where income is below 60% of the national equivalised median income. In

1997, 18%4 of the EU population was living in households with income below this threshold, just

2

4

In the choice of indicators underpinning this analysis, account was largely taken of the on-going work of the expert group established by the Social Protection Committee, as well as the conclusions of the report "Indicators for Social inclusion in the European Union" done by T. Atkinson, B. Cantillon, E. Marlier and B. Nolan, under the auspices of the Belgian Presidency.

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about the same as in 1995. This corresponds to more than 60 million individuals in the EU of which about half were consistently living below the threshold for three successive years (1995-97). To get a full picture of the trends in relation to low income, it is also helpful to look at other points of the income distribution, for example at 70%, 50% and 40% of national equivalised median. The percentage of individuals falling below these thresholds is 25%, 12% and 7% respectively in 1997 for the Union as a whole.

Account should also be taken of the fact that these thresholds are national and that they vary widely across Member States. The monetary value of the threshold for the risk of falling into poverty varies between 11 400 PPS (or 12 060 euros) in Luxembourg5 and 3 800 PPS6 (or 2 870 euros) in Portugal.

This indicator of the risk of poverty is also useful for assessing the overall impact of the social protection system on the distribution of income. 26% of the EU population would have fallen below this threshold if social transfers other than old-age pensions had not been counted as part of income, and 41% if old-age pensions had also not been considered (Table 6).

While the overall gender gap in the rate of risk of poverty is small7, it is very significant for some groups: people living alone especially older women (15%, for older men, 22% for older women) and 40% for single parents who are mostly women (Table 3a and 3c).

The risk of poverty was also substantially higher for the unemployed, particular age groups, such as children and young people, and some types of households such as lone parent families and couples with numerous children.

Around the EU average risk of poverty of 18%, there are wide variations across Member States. The lowest risk of poverty rates in the EU in 1997 were found in Denmark (8% ), Finland (9% ), Luxembourg8 and Sweden (12%), Austria and Netherlands (13%), whereas the highest were found in Portugal (23%), the UK9 and Greece (22%) 10- see Graph 1 in Annex I.

Such variations call for a wide range of explanatory factors. Traditionally, attention has been drawn in the relevant literature to the correlation between expenditure in social protection and the risk of poverty (see graph 4 in Annex 1). Comparisons between Member States regarding levels of expenditure on social protection raise complex issues. They must take account of different levels of prosperity, the age structure of the population, the business cycle, differences in patterns of provision of social protection and tax structures.

6

9

10

All data for Luxembourg refers to 1996.

PPS= Purchasing Power Standards a notional currency which excludes the influence of differences in price levels between countries; Source: Eurostat

The measured gender gap in low-income does not match the current perception of gender differences in the exposure to poverty and social exclusion. This can be partly explained by the fact that income data are collected at the level of the household and the assumption that there is an equal sharing of the household income among all adult members.

All data for Luxembourg refers to 1996

This data is not strictly comparable with the 1996 data (18% ). It is presently under revision in order to improve comparability with data from other Member States.

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Nevertheless, Member States with high per capita social expenditure levels (i.e. well above the EU average of 5532 PPS in 1998), such as Luxembourg, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, show percentages at risk of poverty well below the EU average.

In some Member States there are lower levels of expenditure on social protection and the risk of poverty and social exclusion is a more widespread and fundamental problem. It should be borne in mind that countries such as Portugal and Greece are experiencing rapid transition from a rural to a modem society and see evolving forms of social exclusion coexisting alongside more traditional forms.

The relatively wide quantitative variations across the EU as regards the risk of poverty illustrate the different starting points from which Member States had to develop their policy priorities in the NAPs/incl.

Key structural changes

There is an acknowledgement in the NAPs/incl of four major structural changes that are occurring across the EU and which are likely to have a significant impact over the next ten years. In practice these are reflected more or less strongly in the different proposed strategies depending largely on the extent to which Member States looked either at the past and present or looked from the present to the future when drawing up their plans. These structural changes are both creating opportunities for enhancing and strengthening social cohesion and putting new pressures on and posing new challenges for the main systems of inclusion. In some cases they are leading to new risks of poverty and social exclusion for particularly vulnerable groups. They are:

Labour market changes: There are major structural changes in the labour market resulting from a period of very rapid economic change and globalisation. They are creating both new opportunities and new risks:

There is increasing demand for new skills and higher levels of education. This can create new job opportunities but also create new barriers for those who are lacking the skills necessary to access such opportunities, thus creating more insecurity for those who are unable to adapt to the new demands.

There are also new job opportunities in services for people with low skills leading to increased income into households, though this can also lead to the danger of persistent low paid and precarious employment, especially for women and youths.

There are also more opportunities for part -time and new forms of work which can lead to new flexibility in balancing home and work responsibilities and to a pathway into more stable employment, but also can result in more precarious employment.

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Overall, these structural changes in labour markets, which often impact on the weakest in society, have been recognised by all Member States.

elnclusion: The very rapid growth of the knowledge-based society and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is leading to major structural changes in society both in economic and employment terms and in terms of how people and communities relate to one another. These changes hold out both important opportunities and significant risks. On the positive side ICTs are creating new job opportunities and more flexible ways of working that can both facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life and allow more flexibility about where people work. They can contribute to the regeneration of isolated and marginal communities. They can be used to improve the quality of key public services, to enhance access to information and rights for everyone and to make participation easier for people with particular disadvantages such as people with disabilities or people who are isolated and alone. On the other hand, for those who are already at high risk of exclusion, ICTs can create another layer of exclusion and widen the gap between rich and poor if some vulnerable and low income groups do not have equal access to them. The challenge facing Member States is to develop coherent and proactive policies to ensure that ICTs do not create a new under-skilled and isolated group in society. Thus they must invest in ensuring equal access, training and participation for all.

In the NAPs/incl, the einclusion issue is substantially recognised by the different Member States on the basis of a quite developed analysis of the risks and current national gaps. However, the scale of the challenge is not well quantified and indicators are in general not developed in the Plans.

Demographic changes and increased ethnic diversity: There are significant demographic changes taking place across Europe which see more people living longer and hence a greater number of older people and particularly very old people, the majority of whom are women. This is particularly highlighted by some Member States (Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, Austria) but is generally a growing issue. The old-age dependency ratio, defined as the proportion of people aged over 65 to working-age population (20-64) has increased from 25 % to 27 %between 1995 and 2000, and is foreseen to increase further to 53% by 2050 (Source: Eurostat).

A reduction in birth rates in many countries is also contributing to an increase in dependency ratios. This has important implications for poverty and social exclusion in several respects:

Tax/welfare systems are being challenged to fund adequate pensions for all older people, particularly for those, mainly women, whose working career has not been sufficiently long and/or continuous to accumulate satisfactory pension entitlements;

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Several Member States recognise in their NAPincl a trend towards growing ethnic, cultural and religious diversity in society, fuelled by international migration flows and increased mobility within the Union. In a recent communication (COM 2001 (387) ) the Commission has also emphasised that, due to demographic and other pressures, there will be a need for increased migration of both skilled and unskilled workers in the EU. This has important implications for all policies which aim at promoting social inclusion and strengthening social cohesion. In it's communication, the Commission has stressed that "failure to develop an inclusive and tolerant society which enables different ethnic minorities to live in harmony with the local population of which they form part leads to discrimination, social exclusion and the rise of racism and xenophobia."

Changing Household structures and the role of men and women: In addition to the ageing population requiring more care, households are changing more frequently as an effect of growing rates of family break ups and the trend towards de-institutionalisation of family life11• At the same time women's access to the labour market is sharply increasing. Moreover, women were traditionally, and still often are, in charge of unpaid care for dependents. The interaction between all these trends raises the crucial issues of reconciling work and family life and providing adequate and affordable care for dependent family members.

This is acknowledged to various degrees by all Member States. The increased participation of women in the labour market is seen as positive in terms of promoting greater equality between men and women, generating higher household incomes to lift families out of poverty and increasing opportunities for active participation in society. The main challenge is then for services and systems to respond in new ways to support parents combining work and home responsibilities and in ensuring that those who are vulnerable are provided with adequate care and support. This is particularly stressed by those Member States such as Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal for whom the family and community was the key support against poverty and exclusion.

An aspect of the changing household structure is the growing number of one-parent households. These households tend to experience higher risk of poverty, as evidenced by the fact that 40% of the people living in such households were below the 60% relative income line in 1997 (the same percentage as in 1995) (Table 3c). Such risks are particularly acute for women who constitute the large majority of single parents. This is emphasised in a number of NAPs/incl (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany. Spain, UK). However, it is noticeable how a number of countries (in particular Finland, Denmark and Sweden) have much lower levels of poverty risk among one-parent families.

Key risk factors

The NAPs/incl clearly identify a number of recurring risks or barriers that play a critical role in limiting people's access to the main systems that facilitate inclusion in society. These risks and barriers mean that some individuals, groups and communities are particularly at risk of or vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion and are also likely to experience difficulties in adjusting to the structural changes taking place. They also serve to highlight the multidimensional nature of the problem, as it is usually due to a combination or accumulation of these risks that people (both adults and children) are trapped in situations of poverty and social exclusion. While the intensity of the risks varies significantly across Member States, there is a fairly homogeneous perception of the importance of the following risks:

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Long-term dependence on low/inadequate income: A number of Member States highlight how the longer the length of time someone has to survive on a very low income the greater the degree of deprivation and exclusion from social, cultural and economic activity and the greater the risk of extreme social isolation. 1997 ECHP data on people living in monetary poverty, that is people who have lived for three or more years in households below 60% of the national median equivalised income, suggests that this is a particular problem for 15% of the population in Portugal, 11% in Ireland, France and Greece, and 10% in the UK (Table 7). The issue of indebtedness associated with low income also features in a number of NAPs/incl.

Long-term unemployment: There is a clear correlation between long term unemployment and low income. People who have been jobless for a long time tend to lose the skills and the self-esteem necessary to regain a foothold in the labour market, unless appropriate and timely support is provided. For countries with high levels of long-term unemployment such as Spain, Greece, Italy, Germany, Belgium or France, with rates exceeding the EU average of 3.6 % in 2000 (Table 9), this risk is considered as a major factor behind poverty and social exclusion. However, all Member States highlight the risks of poverty and social exclusion associated with unemployment and especially long-term unemployment.

Low quality employment or absence of employment record: Being in employment is by far the most effective way to secure oneself against the risk of poverty and social exclusion. This is clearly borne out by evidence drawn from the ECHP according to which only 6% of the employed population in the EU lived below the risk of poverty line in 1997, as against 38% of the unemployed and 25% of the inactive (Table 3b). However, remaining in and out of insecure, low paid, low quality and often part -time employment, can lead to persistent poverty and weaker social and cultural relationships as well as leading to inadequate pensions in the future. While the proportion of the "working poor" has been stable in 1995-97, the phenomenon has been more noticeable in a few Member States (Greece and Portugal, with an in-work risk of poverty rate of 11% ).

In addition, the absence of employment record is recognised as a key risk factor in particular for women when combined with a family break up and for single elderly women in countries where pension mainly depends on work record.

Low level of education and illiteracy: The lack of basic skills and qualifications is a major barrier to inclusion in society and this is even more the case in an increasingly knowledge-based society. There is thus a growing danger of new cleavages in society being created between the haves and have-nots of skills and qualifications. This is well acknowledged by most Member States.

While the total inability to read and write has now been largely eradicated in Europe, except among a small number of the elderly, ethnic minorities and immigrants, the phenomenon of functional illiteracy is widespread. This is recognised by several Member States, notably Greece, Ireland, Portugal and the Netherlands, who highlight the particularly severe difficulties that people with literacy problems face in participating in society and integrating into the labour market.

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Member States such as the Netherlands also highlight the problems of older people with low educational qualifications and the difficulties they face both in accessing the labour market and more generally participating in society. The high levels of educational disadvantage experienced by immigrants and ethnic minorities are stressed by many Member States as are the language barriers that many of them face.

Growing up in a vulnerable family: Children growing up in households affected by divorce, lone parent households, poor households with numerous children, jobless households, or households in which there is domestic violence are perceived as being at great risk of poverty and social exclusion. This is borne out by evidence from the ECHP showing that households with 2 adults and 3 or more children and households with a single parent with at least 1 dependent child have the highest risk of poverty rates of all household types,respectively 35% in 1996, and 40% in 1997 (Table 3c ). Indeed in most Member States, children (0-15) are at a greater risk of poverty than adults, their average EU rate standing at 25% in 1997, as against 13% for adults (25-49) (Table 3a). Young people (16-24) also show a great risk of poverty, as 23% of them live below the 60% median income line. There is much evidence that children growing up in poverty tend to do less well educationally, have poorer health, enjoy fewer opportunities to participate and develop socially, recreationally and culturally and are at greater risk of being involved in or affected by anti-social behaviour and substance abuse. Some NAPincl have particularly emphasised this risk, as is the case with Finland, Portugal and the UK.

Disability: The majority of Member States clearly identify people with disabilities as a group potentially at risk of social exclusion. This is in line with the public perceptions on the importance of disability: 97% of EU citizens think more should be done to integrate people with disabilities more fully into society12• It also ties in with consistent evidence from the ECHP of the high risk of

poverty for people who are ill or disabled. However, the lack of detailed data and common indicators for people with disabilities is striking. Only Italy, Spain, Portugal, UK and France list clear indicators for people with disabilities, thereby attempting to gain a real picture of the situation. It will be of fundamental importance to improve the provision of indicators on social inclusion for people with disabilities

Poor Health: There is a widespread understanding that poor health is both a cause and a consequence of wider socio-economic difficulties. The overall health status of the population tends to be weaker in lower income groups. The percentage of people claiming their health to be (very) bad was significantly higher for those below the risk of poverty line than for those above it in the Union as a whole (13% and 9% respectively13), as well as in all Member States. Finland, Sweden,

Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland, highlight in their NAPs/incl the strong correlation between poor health and poverty and exclusion. Particularly vulnerable groups such as the Roma and Travellers have poor life expectancy and higher rates of infant mortality. This correlation depends on various factors but in particular on the extent to which adverse social and environmental factors, which are experienced disproportionately by people on low incomes, can make it difficult for individuals to make healthier choices.

Living in an area of multiple disadvantage: Growing up or living in an area of multiple deprivation is likely to intensify the exclusion and marginalisation of those in poverty and make their inclusion

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Results of a Eurobarometer survey conducted in 2000.

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back into the mainstream more difficult. Such areas often tend also to develop a culture of welfare dependency, experience high levels of crime, drug trafficking and anti-social behaviour and have a concentration of marginalised groups like lone parents, immigrants, ex -offenders and substance abusers. Regenerating such mainly suburban and urban areas is seen as a significant challenge across the majority of Member States.

Precarious housing conditions and homelessness: Lack of access to adequate housing or accommodation is a significant factor in increasing isolation and exclusion and is perceived as a major problem in some Member States. Pressure on housing supply is particularly noted in areas of rapid growth in Sweden, Finland, and Ireland leading to significant problems of congestion. Particular groups such as immigrants and ethnic minorities (notably the Roma and Travellers) can also face greater difficulties in securing adequate accommodation and thus experience greater exclusion. Many Member States, notably Austria, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, the UK and Finland, highlight serious problems of homelessness, and some attempt to estimate the numbers involved.

Immigration, Ethnicity, Racism and Discrimination: The majority of Member States, clearly identify ethnic minorities and immigrants as being at high risk of social exclusion 14. Several, such

as Denmark and Ireland, note the growing numbers of immigrants and the challenge of developing appropriate services and supports to help them to integrate into society and of building a more multi-cultural and inclusive society15• This is likely to be a growing challenge for many Member States over the next few years as the number of foreign workers and their dependants will increase16. A few countries point to other factors of discrimination, such as sexual orientation

(Germany). In spite of the widespread recognition of such risks there is a generalised lack of data and common indicators for people from these vulnerable groups. Only Spain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands and France list clear indicators thereby attempting to gain a real picture of the situation and needs in their countries.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Social Exclusion - A number of these risk factors as well as being causes could equally well be seen as consequences or products of poverty and social exclusion. For instance, the concentration of poverty and multiple deprivation in certain communities, high levels of physical ill health, psychological and environmental stress, increases in crime or drug and alcohol abuse and the alienation of young people are all exacerbated by poverty and social exclusion. The point is that the causes and consequences of poverty are often inextricably linked. Thus several Member States highlight the challenge of breaking the cycle of poverty or intergenerational poverty if some individuals and groups of people are not to become further marginalised and alienated from the rest of society.

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15

16

The term ethnic minorities generally refers to national citizens of a different ethnic origin than that of the majority of the population (e.g. the Innuits of Denmark). These may include citizens from former colonies (e.g. the black African Portugese). Yet, it may also refer to groups among the immigrant population with an ethnic origin which is distinct from that of the majority of the population (e.g. Turkish immigrants in Germany). See also Council decision of 28 September 2000 establishing a European Refugee Fund where one of the objectives is integration of certain categories of immigrants.

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Eight core challenges

The overarching challenge for public policy is to ensure that the main mechanisms which distribute opportunities and resources - the labour market, the tax system, the systems providing social protection, education, housing, health, and other services - become sufficiently universal in the context of structural changes to address the needs of those individuals, both men and women, who are most at risk of poverty and social exclusion and to enable them to access their fundamental rights. Eight core challenges stand out from the NAPs/incl:

(1) Developing an inclusive labour market and promoting employment as a right and opportunity for all: There is general agreement across Member States of the importance of promoting access to employment not only as a key way out of poverty and social exclusion but also as a means to prevent poverty and social exclusion. The challenge is thus to develop a range of policies that promote employability and are tailored to individual needs. Such policies should be accompanied by the creation of appropriate employment opportunities for those who are least able to access the mainstream labour market as well as adequate and affordable measures to reconcile work and family responsibilities.

(2) Guaranteeing an adequate income and resources to live in human dignity: The challenge is to ensure that all men, women and children have a sufficient income to lead life with dignity and to participate in society as full members. For several Member States, it means reviewing the systems and policies operating a redistribution of resources across society so that those unable to earn their living or who are retired have incomes that keep pace with general trends in living standards in the wider society. It may also include the development of adequate policy approaches to prevent and tackle problems of overindebtedness.

(3) Tackling educational disadvantage: The challenge here is perceived by some Member States as to increase investment in education as a key long-term policy to prevent poverty and social exclusion. In accordance with Member States' priorities, this challenge may involve working to prevent educational disadvantage by developing effective interventions at an early age (including adequate and comprehensive child care provision), adapting the education system so that schools successfully respond to the needs and characteristics of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, preventing young people from dropping out of school (and bringing those that did back to learning), developing and extending lifelong learning so that there are customised education and training opportunities accessible to vulnerable groups, enhancing access to basic skills provision or tackling (functional) illiteracy. It also may involve strengthening the role of education and training establishments in promoting norms and values such as social cohesion, equal opportunities and active citizenship.

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(5) Ensuring good accommodation for all: Access to good quality and affordable accommodation is a fundamental need and right. Ensuring that this need is met is still a significant challenge in a number of Member States. In addition, developing appropriate integrated responses both to prevent and address homelessness is another essential challenge for some countries.

(6) Guaranteeing equal access to quality services (health, transport, social, care, cultural, recreational, legal): A major policy challenge, particularly for those Member States who have had a low investment in such services, is to develop policies that will ensure equal access across this wide range of policy domains. In this context it is striking that the legal, cultural, sporting and recreational dimensions remain undeveloped in many NAPs/incl.

(7) Improving delivery of services: Delivery of social services is not limited to the ministries of social affairs but involves other actors, public and private, national and local. Four kinds of challenges can be identified from a large number of NAPs/incl. First, to overcome the fragmentation and compartmentalisation of policy making and delivery. This means recognising the importance of greater integration between different policy domains and of co-ordinating national plans with approaches at regional and local level. Secondly, to address the issue of the links between the national, regional and local levels, particularly in those Member States with strong regional structures. Thirdly, to overcome the problem of policies and programmes that seem remote, inflexible, unresponsive and unaccountable and to address the gap between democratic structures and those who are poor and excluded. Fourthly, to mobilise all actors in the struggle against poverty and social exclusion and to build greater public support for the policies and programmes necessary to shape an inclusive society.

(8) Regenerating areas of multiple deprivation: The challenge of developing effective responses to the problems posed by areas of multiple deprivation (both urban and rural) so that they are reintegrated into the mainstream economy and society is recognised by Member States.

2. STRATEGIC APPROACHES AND POLICY MEASURES

Promoting a strategic and integrated approach

The Nice objectives were set in a political framework that made the promotion of social cohesion an essential element in the EU global strategy for the next ten years. The 2001 NAPs/incl are therefore a first step in a multi-annual process which should contribute to making a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty and social exclusion in the EU within that horizon. Furthermore, poverty and social exclusion take complex and multi-dimensional forms that require the mobilisation of a wide range of policies as part of an integrated approach. Member States were therefore encouraged to develop in their NAPs/incl a strategic and integrated approach to fighting poverty and social exclusion. The aim of the present chapter is to draw out lessons from the approaches adopted by Member States in trying to develop a strategic and integrated approach in their NAPs/incl.

In considering the different ways national strategies were developed account must be taken of the underlying differences across Member States in terms of:

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- the perceived dimension of poverty and social exclusion, which in some cases is assimilated to the specific problems of most vulnerable groups in society, while in others it is considered as pervasive to the society as a whole;

- the extent to which an integrated anti-poverty strategy, encompassing a broadly agreed analytical framework, a set of priorities and a monitoring process, already exists in the country;

In addition, the first round of NAPs/incl demonstrates clearly that developing an effective strategic approach to tackling poverty and social exclusion is different in Member States such as Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria, the UK and Spain in which responsibility for key policies (e.g. health, education and social assistance, etc.) is largely devolved to and/or shared between regional and local authorities. It is clear that this has the advantage of ensuring that strategies can better reflect local differences and be more responsive to local needs. It can also facilitate the mobilisation and participation of all actors. However, it also leads to particular challenges in terms of integrating local, regional and national policies and in combining, where necessary, overall national and regional targets. The process of developing an overall plan under these conditions has also proved a more complex one which requires a more lengthy period of preparation. However, in spite of the constraints the challenge of a regional approach led in these Member States to important steps forward during the course of developing the NAPs/incl.

Whatever the starting point or particular circumstances of Member States, three elements can be identified that provide the basis for developing national plans which are strategic, coherent and add value to existing efforts to combat poverty and social exclusion. These elements are: a high quality analysis of the key risks and challenges and an assessment of the effectiveness of existing responses; the establishment of clear priorities, on the basis of the common objectives adopted in Nice, including the setting of specific goals and targets; and an integrated and multi-dimensional

approach to policy development. All plans contain some or all of these three dimensions to a

greater or lesser extent and are themselves important steps in the formation and implementation of policies combating social exclusion. The process is at a very early stage and the present report does not intend to assess Member states policies and their effectiveness. In this context the following analysis is based on the presentation of the NAP's and is intended to help the identification and exchange of good practice.

Analysis: All Member States provide some assessment of the situation in their country. Some

Member States, for example Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and the UK have provided comprehensive analyses of important structural trends and their underlying causes with indicators which underpin their assessment of the key challenges and risks both currently and into the future. The Greek NAP/incl identifies the key challenges and problems and focuses on particular target groups in the wider context of economic, employment and social reforms. The German NAP/incl takes into account the analysis included in its recent national poverty report.

Priorities and Targets: Several Member States use their analysis as the basis for developing a

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